The sci-fi concept of mix man with animal or animal with other animals has been around for as long as humans have existed. The Satyr, the centaur, the mermaid, all of these reflect a fascination with “what ifs” that, at the time, were purely in the realm of fantasy.
That has changed and most people aren’t even aware of it. Today it’s not only possible to grow an animal embryo with human DNA in it, it’s been done many times and it will continue to be done in a search for new treatments for human disease.
That’s all well and good and important but there’s also the very real fact that we’re creating hybrids of humans and animals and of animals and other animals right now, not in the future, now. Without judgement I present you with six cases.
1. The ManApe
This is a weird list but it’s important to start at the beginning. The ManApe does not exist so let me get that out of the way. However, in the early 1900s, one Soviet scientist by the name of Ilya Ivanovich wanted them to exist. They wanted it so much that they practiced artificial insemination of female apes (usually chimps) with human sperm. I mean, that’s gross, I know. It didn’t result in anything either but (possibly mad scientist) Ilya Ivanov was not to be deterred. In 1929 he got a bunch of women to agree to be, how to phrase this, receptacles for male orangutan sperm. He ended up not being able to follow through with the unholy union because his last orangutan died.
However, all this artificial insemination practice paid off. He literally perfected the process which, today, is used to breed horses.
So, that’s the start of all the later attempts to fiddle with human genes even though no one even knew what genes were in the early 1900s. We’ll leave aside John Brinkley’s attempt to get rid of virility by grafting goat testicles onto humans to cure impotence. Eventually we discovered the human genome and mapped it along with thousands of others.
Great, we can make ManApes now, right? No, not yet, but what we’ve gotten already is pretty incredible.